It’s quieter here. There is no loud music, no kid-gangs running around, no pleading for pizza. This happens when all of your children have moved out. What great books feature empty nesters? Here are some of my favorites: 

Heaven Adjacent (Lake Union Publishing) by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I love Roseanna Chaldecott. She’s the high powered attorney in New York City who decides that a change in her life must happen immediately. As in, right that minute. She fills her car with gas, heads to the Adirondack mountains, buys a house on 76 acres, meets a mother and daughter squatting on her property, and finally, finally reconnects with her grown son. A beautiful story of love, mothers and sons, forgiveness and finding a new you. 

The In-Between Hour (MIRA) by Barbara Claypole White

Hannah Linden is a holistic veterinarian. Her life is filled with saving strays and caring for animals. She wants to heal everyone — animals and people alike. But she can’t heal her grown son, a bestselling writer, whose heartache has taken over his life. When he moves into her guest cottage with his dad, this family has to find a new way forward. For people who love to read about healing within families, this is the read for you.

Where She Went (Sourcebooks Landmark) by Kelly Simmons

Maggie O’Farrell’s daughter, Emma, heads off to college leaving Maggie an empty nester. Maggie’s nervous — she misses Emma, she texts too much, she calls too much, and she has this nervous, anxious feeling that doom is around the corner. And then doom comes calling and Emma disappears. This is a book that sends fear crawling up your spine, in which a mother learns who her daughter is and what’s really going on in her life. The question becomes: How well do you know your own child?

The Freelance Academic (Snowraven Books) by Katie Rose Guest Pryal

I just have to throw in this non-fiction book because it’s so inspiring. Katie Rose has a law degree and a doctorate. “Working hard” is her real middle name. (Okay, maybe not.) The Freelance Academic is about her life through academia; the struggles and hard truths about working in colleges; and how to build your own career based on your dreams and aspirations. An excellent book in particular for empty nesters re-building careers and new lives when the kids have flown the coop on their own well-made wings. 

The Mother In Law (St. Martin’s Griffin) by Sally Hepworth

I am listening to this as an audiobook now, and the mother, Diana, in The Mother in Law is one of the most intriguing characters ever. She seems cold, overly practical, not a sentimental or gentle bone in her body. We see her interactions with her grown children and her children’s spouses, and how she believes a mother-in-law — and mother — should act when her children are adults. These actions are sometimes in direct opposition to what the grown children want. The whole plot is fascinating. This is a book for people with complicated family dynamics.

The Other Woman (Minotaur) by Sandie Jones

Read this book to learn about the mother-in-law who seems addicted to her son, and hugely antagonistic toward his girlfriend, our protagonist. The son moved out of mom’s house long ago, leaving her an empty-nester, but there is a weird, dangerous dynamic there that explodes at the end. For anyone who needs a thriller about a mother-in-law who is a mystery and an enigma, and also super annoying and mean, all wrapped up in one complicated package.

Hope On The Inside (Kensington) by Marie Bostwick

Hope Carpenter needs her life to change. Her mother always said, “Whatever comes your way, find the happiness within it.” With four grown children, Hope and her husband, Rick, need to find the happiness within their marriage again, especially now that they are entering a whole new stage of empty-nester life. With financial problems and a job disaster, Hope starts teaching crafts at a women’s prison. Then the women at the prison begin to teach her about life and living.